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Nutrition and Food Safety

University of Wyoming Extension

#2 - ADJUSTING FOR FOODS COOKED IN WATER OR STEAM

Foods cooked in boiling water or steam need to be adjusted for Wyoming's high elevations. As altitude increases, water boils more quickly but at a lower boiling point.

A "three-minute" egg may not be done in three minutes and a bowl of soup may come to a boil very quickly, but not be especially hot in the high country. It takes longer for vegetables, eggs, dried beans, pot roasts, stews and other foods cooked in liquid. It's impossible to suggest the additional cooking time required at high altitudes, because there's so much variation in the size and the ripeness of different foods.

In general, cooking time must be increased from 4-11 percent per 1,000 feet, depending on the product.

A pressure cooker is great for cooking meats and vegetables which require long cooking at high altitudes.

By increasing pressure, the temperature at which water boils is raised, and food cooks more quickly. However, you can't rely on the manufacturer's pressure cooker time tables to give you tender food at high altitudes. The temperature of steam within the pressure also is affected by altitude. When using a pressure cooker, the pressure must be increased by one pound per 2,000 feet of increased elevation to reach the same temperature required at sea level. For example, at 6,000 feet, a pressure of 13 pounds is required for the same internal temperature as 10 pounds of pressure at sea level.

For pressure cookers with a dial gauge, adjustment for altitude can be made easily. An increase in cooking time is necessary for pressure saucepans with a maximum weighted gauge of 15 pounds. An increase of one to two minutes is satisfactory at 5,000 feet for most vegetables. Beets, whole potatoes and sweet potatoes may require an additional five minutes.


Source: Altitude Adjusters by Karen Kettlewell Harrington, University of Wyoming Extension Publication B-734, 1981, with adaptations from UW Extension Cent$ible Nutrition cookbook.


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